Saturday, November 16, 2013

Practice: Reflecting on my skills

A few weeks ago, Meg Maples had a post about different painting styles which got me thinking. Then of course with other thoughts about rekindling my joy for painting, it got me really thinking about what I can do to actually advance my skills. Very often I'm busy trying to finish a specific model and don't stop to think about skills. Plus I'm not usually painting models that are great for stepping back and practicing a specific skill since I'm painting for an army. But I still want to practice my skills, so I'm going to start this new series of Practice posts which will come sporadically and contain actual painting practice results.

My first couple posts will be more about reflection and thinking about what it is I need to practice. For this very first post I'm going to use Meg's post as a jumping off point and reflect on my own style first. I've chosen 2 specific models that are personal favorites but that I also have gotten a lot of positive feedback on. Even though I painted them quite a while ago (over 4 years ago) I feel like they are very typical of my style.

Original Raek postOriginal Teraph post

So using these as my reference models, and armed with Meg's list of style aspects, time to take a critical look at my own predilections. Note that I've mixed together elements from both "schools" here for my own reflective purposes.

Clean, clear, bright colors - Yeah, this is pretty true for my style. I tend to use a fairly bright palette overall, even when I don't intend to. On these two models I have started venturing into using more color combinations to create some interest, but I'm still a color theory neophyte.
Dark Lining - This isn't really a practice I have. Some things have dark lining, like around roots of claws or things like that, but I typically avoid the "traditional" dark lining that I hear about in painting classes. I've always found it just a bit too cartoony for my tastes.
Non-Metalic Metals - Oh my God do I hate doing NMM. I've practiced it a bit and it just irritates me. I get the idea, and I respect those that are good at it, but honestly it's a style I just don't like. NMM often requires assuming that not only does lighting comes from a particular place, but the viewer's angle does too, and that just seems counterintuitive to me. Counterpoint to this though is a glaring need to get better with real metallics.
Focus on Faces - I suck at painting faces. Period. I've only had one model that I considered a success at painting a face (McBain).
Buttery smooth blending - My blending isn't the smoothest by a long shot. I do keep practicing, but I tend to put less emphasis on the "perfect blend" and more on using color to create an interesting transition. This is
Generalized Lighting - Yep, very much me. I don't do a good job of creating a sense of where the lighting is coming from. And I'm not just talking about OSL either.
Freehand - Ugh, another fail for me. These two examples have freehand runes on them, but that's about as far as I get at this point. Just very basics for freehand work.
Piece is a part of a larger story - Again, fail. Not much more to say.
Elaborate basing - This is something I'm getting better at but still weak on. For army building it's hard to do elaborate bases on every single model. My personal favorite success on this front was Victor Pendrake where I just went nuts on the base.
Blood, gore, dirt, weather, etc - Again, something I'm doing more of, but no where near where I want to be. This is something I really aspire to do great work on and just need to keep pushing myself to practice more and more.
High contrast - This last one is something I try to stay conscious of but, to be honest with myself, my habits and style get in the way of keeping it at the front of my mind.

So all this "thinking" and "reflecting" is great and all, but it leaves me in desperate need of a practical experiment. To that end, I'm going to do a series of posts where I pick out a particular style or technique that I want to push myself on and do a test model for practice purposes. I've done a little hunting around and found that the Reaper Bones Clay Golem model is a good test subject to use. I've already acquired 5 of them and plan to get more as needed. They are simple in terms of features which makes them good painting study subjects. They don't require priming making them even lower maintenance. They are also dirt cheap so I don't mind buying several as "throw away" test subjects. I'm going to start my first experiment this weekend probably, but won't have a post for a few days I'm sure. For now I'll leave you in suspense of the first experiment's goal. Until then I encourage you all to take a step back and breathe in deeply of the joy of the painting hobby.

1 comment:

doom_of_the_people said...

That is an excellent test model and he lends himself to being tatted out for work on freehand. Good luck with your practice.